the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
Christmas is a special time of the year for
parents and an even more magical one for babies. The Christmas tree, presents,
shiny decorations, colourful lights, smells, tastes and sounds make Christmas
Day a complete sensory delight. Unfortunately, the celebrations can be both
exhausting and stressful, so it is important to keep in mind that your baby
still needs your love and warmth and the security of a familiar routine. It is
also worth considering the safety aspects of anything that can be harmful to
are 10 top tips to ensure that your baby enjoys the celebrations:
provides the perfect excuse for relatives and friends to have fun
together. To ensure that your baby does not become too overwhelmed from the
excitement, limit guests to family and close friends (if possible). If they
want to hold or play with your baby, keep the changeovers to a minimum and make
sure you are available for a cuddle when needed. Nothing is more important to
your baby’s emotional well-being than your reassuring presence.
your baby’s first Christmas as enjoyable as possible by keeping his or her
routine the same. Too much change can raise your baby’s stress levels. To avoid
emotional insecurity, give presents when your baby is alert and ready to play
and stick to the normal schedule for eating and sleeping. If you are nursing
your baby, find a quiet place away from the action. Both of you will appreciate
the chance to relax and spend some peaceful time together.
Day provides a wealth of sensory stimulation for your baby, but look out for
signs of over stimulation and tiredness. Too much excitement can make your baby
grumpy or miserable. A favourite blanket or toy can provide the emotional
comfort and security that your baby needs, but stay close by to provide a
and stage appropriate toys will stimulate your baby’s senses and offer a wealth
of learning opportunities for discovery and exploration. Black and white
objects, bright, colourful toys that make soft, gentle sounds will stimulate
the interest of a newborn or very young baby. Favourite toys for babies aged 3
to 6 months include objects that can be brought to the mouth and play gyms that
can be biffed and kicked. From 6 to 9 months of age, pop-up toys, musical
instruments, tea sets and activity centres with buttons to press will provide an endless source of amusement.
Large plastic bricks, wooden puzzles with handles, shape sorters, drums
and push along toys are fun and educational for babies aged 9 to 12 months.
However, giving your baby too many toys on Christmas Day can be overwhelming.
Limit the number of toys to one or two at any one time to maintain interest. If
your baby becomes irritable, take a break.
are one of the best toys for babies and it is never too early to introduce
them. Books that contain textured or sparkly materials, large, brightly
coloured pictures and hide-and-seek surprises encourage adult interaction and make
great Christmas presents. Snuggling up close and talking about the pictures is
a wonderful way to introduce new words and sounds. For relatives or friends who
find it difficult to know what to say to your baby, reading a story makes
talking much easier.
presents can brighten up your baby's first Christmas. A treasure basket
containing interesting objects or a cardboard box filled with paper or fabric
offers endless learning possibilities. However, safety is an important
consideration. Christmas tags with sharp edges, long ribbons and homemade
creations that contain small parts can present a serious hazard. Never give
plastic wrap or Styrofoam products to your baby. If swallowed, they may adhere
to the lining of the gut causing blockage or infection. Toys designed for older
children such as electronic games and singing Christmas cards may contain magnets
or batteries, which if ingested, can adhere to internal tissues or leak
dangerous chemicals. Always err on the side of safety and put the item out of
with relatives and friends can be very enriching for your baby on Christmas
Day. For example, they can show your baby how a new toy works, or get involved
in turn-taking activities such as rolling a ball back and forth. Time-honoured
games such as peek-a-boo, blowing ‘raspberries’ and being tickled with a soft
brush are lovely ways to stimulate smiles and giggles. Adult interaction is
vital for healthy social and emotional development because it spells love and
warmth, and because it shows your baby that he or she is fun to be with.
needles, scented potpourri, cinnamon, spices, herbs and Christmas cooking
smells offer your baby a multi-sensory experience and may be associated with
fond memories in years to come. Good smells can enhance your baby’s mood and
behaviour, but it will be trial and error finding out which ones appeal the
most. Your baby’s facial expressions should indicate if one scent is preferred
to another. Avoid essential oils, since these may contain a high phenol content,
which can irritate your baby’s skin. Other scents that can cause an allergic
reaction include Arum lilies, mustard and horseradish.
are very attracted to coloured lights, shiny decorations, tinsel and glitter.
All these things will stimulate your baby’s senses and accelerate learning. Again,
safety is all-important. Putting presents under the Christmas tree provides a
tactile experience for your baby, but place gifts of perfume and aftershave out
of reach. They may contain chemicals that could be harmful if swallowed. Your
baby will love the shiny decorations, but make sure that they are shatterproof
and do not present a choking hazard. Avoid using mistletoe or holly as
decorations. Ingested berries can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea and
drowsiness. Use low voltage LED tree lights that meet current safety standards
or better still, use LED battery-operated fairy lights, which do not get hot.
The best option is to pick your baby up and look at the Christmas tree together
from a safe distance. This will help your baby to feel a part of what is going
At the end of a busy day
carols, songs and music bring warmth and happiness to Christmas Day and they
set the tone for a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Music is one of most
beneficial learning resources for your baby and its effect on intellectual
development is far-reaching. Music can also help your baby to relax and drift
into peaceful sleep at the end of a busy day. There is nothing more important
to your baby than snuggling up in your arms and hearing you sing a favourite
lullaby. This is the best way to end a wonderful Christmas Day!
By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)
Visit The Baby Sensory Shop (www.babysensoryshop.co.uk) where you’ll find exquisite books to share with your baby, music and
songs, bouncy balls, instruments, activity centres, shape sorters, toys, and
other fun gift ideas and stocking fillers.